Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Phyllis Solomon, PhD

Second Advisor

Kevin Corcoran, PhD

Third Advisor

Emily Riehm Meier, MD

Abstract

ABSTRACT

A Case Control Study: The Psychosocial Functioning and Academic Achievement in Siblings with and without Sickle Cell Disease

Lisa Thaniel, MSW

Phyllis Solomon, Ph.D.

Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the psychosocial functioning and academic achievement in siblings with and without sickle cell disease.

Methods: Using convenience sampling, we recruited (N=133) 45 siblings with sickle cell disease, 43 siblings without sickle cell disease, and 45 primary caregivers from the Children's National Medical Center Sickle Cell Program in Washington, DC. We controlled for age, family environment, socioeconomic status, and parent education in the dyad. Siblings with and without sickle cell disease, ages 12-18, completed the Youth Self Report. Their primary caregivers completed the Child Behavior Checklist for each sibling. Demographic information was gathered based on primary caregivers’ responses to a general information data sheet.

Results: Siblings with sickle cell disease (M=53.70, SD=9.01) reported more internalizing behaviors than their healthy siblings (M=46.51, SD=7.73), t=4.52, p=0.00. They also reported less social competence (M=43.52, SD=9.55) than their healthy siblings (M=50.38, SD=7.23), t= 3.78, p=0.00. Primary caregivers reported similar results. They reported more internalizing behaviors in children with sickle cell disease (M=54.96, SD=8.45) than in children without sickle cell disease (M=47.31, SD=8.16), t=4.83, p=0.00. However, they reported less social competence in children without sickle cell disease (M=52.11, SD=3.96) than in children with sickle cell disease (M= 42.20, SD=13.75), t=-4.71, p=0.00. And lastly, primary caregivers reported higher academic achievement in children with sickle cell disease (M=42.16, SD=11.20) than in children without sickle cell disease (M=50.82, SD=7.39), t=-4.55, p=0.00.

Conclusion: This study provides additional evidence that adolescents with sickle cell disease are at risk for psychosocial adjustment problems and poor academic achievement. It also provides evidence that adolescents with sickle cell disease can cope as well as their healthy siblings with adequate family support, as all subjects had involved families and all children with sickle cell disease were involved in treatment. More longitudinal studies are needed to understand the impact of sickle cell disease from adolescence to adulthood. This study highlights the need for additional resources and interventions to address the needs of this particular patient population.

Keywords: psychosocial, adolescents, sickle cell disease, academic achievement

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